The heart has four chambers: a right and left upper chamber called an atrium and a right and left lower chamber called a ventricle. A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a hole between the right and left pumping chambers of the heart. Ventricular septal defects are among the most common congenital heart defects and are probably one of the major reasons for infants to see a cardiologist.
Contact a cardiologist if your baby or child: Tires easily when eating or playing, is not gaining weight, becomes breathless when eating or crying or breathes rapidly or is short of breath. When the symptoms of a ventricular septal defect are hard to control with medicines or the baby is unable to grow, surgical closure of the defect is often recommended. Ventricular septal defects repair is a surgical procedure to close the hole which is large in size and possess risk of congestive heart failure.
PREPARING FOR THE SURGERY
Your child will have to undergo various investigations before the surgery, these might include: Chest X-ray, ECG to look at the heart rhythm, Blood tests to check general health and Echocardiogram to look at heart anatomy and blood flow through the heart. Your child should not eat or drink anything after midnight before the day of the surgery. And also may need to stop taking any medicine beforehand.
ON THE DAY OF THE SURGERY
Your child will be given anaesthesia before the surgery starts done through an IV which will make your child sleep deeply and painlessly during the surgery and he or she won’t remember it afterward. The repair will take several hours. The surgeon makes a cut (incision) down the middle of the chest and separate the breastbone to reach the heart. Child will be attached to a heart-lung machine. This machine will act as your child’s heart and lungs during the procedure. The surgeon usually reaches the wall between the septum by looking through one of the valves of the heart and then closes the hole in the ventricle with a tightly woven patch material. Once the procedure has been completed, the heart-lung machine will be removed. Your child’s breastbone will be put back together with wires. The surgeon will close the muscle and the skin and a bandage will be applied.
After the surgery, child will be kept in a recovery room or ICU for constant observation and monitoring of heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and breathing. There may be mild pain which will be managed by antibiotics. Diagnostic test like an electrocardiogram or an echocardiogram may be performed after the procedure. By the second day, your child should be up and moving around as much as possible. And he/she will probably be able to go home about a week after the surgery.
Most children can get back to their normal activities when they get home. But they may tire more easily for a while. Children should avoid activities that might result in blows to the chest. Your child may need to have stitches removed in a follow-up appointment. Be sure to keep all follow-up appointments and instructions.
Always be alert for any symptoms such as increased swelling, increased bleeding or drainage, a fever and immediately contact your doctor. A little drainage from the site is normal. Follow all the instructions your doctor has given you about medicine, exercise, diet, and wound care. For a short time after the procedure, your child will need regular check-ups by a cardiologist. After recovering from the surgery, most children are able to lead normal lives without any activity restrictions.
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Q: Is Ventricular Septal Defect a life-threatening condition?
A:VSD is usually considered a non-life-threatening condition, and if it’s causing major symptoms related to congestive heart failure it can be treated through surgery.
Q: is VSD an inherited medical condition?
A: It is a birth defect, and usually connected with risk factors like Asian heritage, having family history of congenital heart diseases like Down Syndrome.
Q: How a hole in the heart is diagnosed?
A: Usually doctors point out heart murmurs through stethoscope and further check it via tests like Echocardiogram.
Q: Can hole in the heart can be cured naturally?
A: Large holes are less likely to close by itself however can get smaller in size overtime, but generally surgery is required to repair the Ventricular septal defects.
Q: How can ventricular septal defect lead to heart failure?
A: Increased blood flow to the lungs due to the VSD causes high blood pressure in the lung arteries (pulmonary hypertension), which can permanently damage them. This complication can cause reversal of blood flow through the hole, called as Endocarditis and uncommonly lead to heart failure.
Q: Can congenital heart problems like VSD be checked during pregnancy?
A: Yes, thanks to the advanced technologies, heart defects can be checked in foetus at 4th month of pregnancy through prenatal ultrasound, which helps the doctors to catch the problems early and plan accordingly.
Q: Are all heart murmurs major?
A: Murmurs can be caused by heart problems that range from mild and requiring little or no medical intervention to life-threatening, requiring immediate surgery. In children, an abnormal murmur may be the result of a congenital heart defect. If the problem is severe, heart surgery may be recommended.
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